Friday, 5 October 2007

Fines, Flowers and a Funeral (but no skate-biking)

A stroll around the small part of Hong Kong in the immediate vicinity of the hotel offered the following sights:

  • Flowers being braided into huge arching hoops at streetside florists, huddled under the overhang of the mighty banking and hotel empires
  • A small funeral party pacing quietly along the street, many of their number dressed in the white of mourning.

On the MTR, Hong Kong's take on London's Tube there are a surprising number of public-spirited signs, and a great many prohibitive ones. And many of the prohibitions are helpfully indicated by signs whose diagrammatic delight was a joy to behold.

No skate-biking sign

Between the signs for the suicide prevention hotline, or those encouraging readers to report corruption or cover their germy coughs with face masks. Or even "Show you have a loving heart; give up your seat to anyone who needs it." Between all of these are the fine notices and admonishments:

  • No spitting
  • No smoking (fine $1500)
  • No skate-biking (glorious!)
  • No eating or drinking in paid areas.

Even the bins are signed - a $1500 fine for putting anything other than cigarettes in the ashtray. Or for placing ones non-recyclable rubbish in a recycling container - or vice versa.

The MTR, by the way, doesn't really bear comparison with the Tube; it's far more designed than the gloriously organic sprawl of the Tube. It's also a great deal cleaner, more air-conditioned, more helpfully bi-lingual in signs and announcements and advice. And just a tiny bit soulless as a result.

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